In his latest sermon at his 20,000 member megachurch, John Hagee took to the pulpit to begrudge impoverished Americans. He said, “America has rewarded laziness and we’ve called it welfare,” before adding “The Bible says, ‘The man who does not work, should not eat.’ I know the liberals hate that verse, but read it and weep! It’s God’s position.”
Here's the problem. Hagee quoted one Bible verse from 2 Thessalonians 3:10, a verse which, taken in context, (something most Christians ask atheists to do when we cite a passage that is either contradicted by another passage in the "good book" or is just downright awful and bad advice) we learn is in there because it is instructing Christians who are not working because they think they don't need to because they are under the mistaken impression that Jesus is coming back so soon that the fruits of their labor will be interrupted by the Son of Man riding down from Heaven on a white horse, to work so they won't starve.
I am reminded by my friend Scott Long's meme which reads, "I am certain Jesus will return in my lifetime." The quote was attributed to "-A billion dead people."
John Hagee is apparently under the misapprehension that the true version of Jesus is his own idealized, futuristic Frankenstein monster made out of scrap parts left over by Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand, and the Koch brothers after they've eventually passed away.
He is either blissfully unaware of Jesus as he actually was when he lived and walked this earth or does Stuart Smalley-esque affirmations each morning to constantly reassure himself that the Jesus he thanks for the unnecessary blood sacrifice is the same one the Tea Partiers believe in.
John Fugelsang once stated that, "Jesus was a radical, nonviolent revolutionary who hung around with lepers hookers and crooks; wasn't American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer (Matthew 6:5); but was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay; and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle Eastern Jew."
While there is one Bible verse that says if you don't work, you shouldn't eat, there are 39 passages that say you should help the poor, regardless of their situation.
John Hagee is not only cherry-picking; he has plucked a rotten cherry when there are 39 ripe ones on the tree!
Here, now, are those 39 passages from the Bible in order of appearance, which instruct people to look after and take care of the poor. To paraphrase John Hagee, "I know John Hagee hates these verses, but read them and weep. It’s God’s position."
1. Deuteronomy 10:18: He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
2. Deuteronomy 14:28-29: At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
3. Deuteronomy 15:7-8: If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.
4. Deuteronomy 15:11: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
5. Joshua 1:14-15: ...You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you...
6. Psalm 9:18: But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
7. Psalm 82:3-4: Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
8. Proverbs 3:27-28: Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow" — when you now have it with you.
9. Proverbs 11:24-25: One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
10. Proverbs 14:20-21: The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends. He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
11. Proverbs 14:31: He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
12. Proverbs 19:17: He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.
13. Proverbs 22:9: A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.
14. Proverbs 22:16: He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich — both come to poverty.
15. Proverbs 22:22-23: Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.
16. Proverbs 28:27: He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.
17. Proverbs 31:8-9: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
18. Proverbs 31:20: She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
19. Isaiah 1:17: Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
20. Isaiah 10:1-3: Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?
21. Isaiah 58:6-11: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
22. Jeremiah 22:3: "This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place."
23. Jeremiah 22:16: "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD.
24. Ezekiel 16:49: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
25. Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
26. Zechariah 7:9-10: "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'"
27. Matthew 6:3-4: "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
28. Matthew 25:34-40: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
29. Luke 6:36: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
30. Luke 14:12-14: Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
31. Acts 20:35: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
32. Romans 12:13: Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
33. Romans 15:1-2: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
34. 1 Corinthians 10:24: Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
35. 2 Corinthians 9:6-13: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity wil result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
36. 1 Timothy 5:3: Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.
37. James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
38. James 2:15-17: Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
39. 1 John 3:17-18: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.